Gardening in shade can be a challenge for many gardeners. As a landscape designer, one of my specialties is shade gardening because many homeowners simply do not know what to do with their shady areas. For years now, hostas have been the go-to plant for shady areas. While hostas certainly work in shade beds, I am here to let you know that you have many other perennial options for a shady area. Bergenia, for example, is just one excellent and underused perennial for shade beds. Continue reading to learn more about the many beautiful bergenia varieties for shady gardens.
Types of Bergenia for Gardens
Bergenia is a perennial, hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9, that grows best in dry, shady locations. Yes, I did say dry shade, which is a particularly difficult condition for plants. However, bergenia thrives in these sites where most plants struggle.
Another bonus is that deer and snails rarely graze on bergenia plants. Bergenia produces thick, leathery, semi-evergreen to evergreen foliage which they find unpalatable. This foliage, depending on variety, may display hues of pink, red, and purple throughout the growing season.
Bergenia also produces stalks of pink to white flower clusters that are very attractive to hummingbirds and pollinators.
How many kinds of bergenia are there? Like hosta, coral bells, and other beloved shade plants, bergenia is available in different varieties which have unique foliage or flower colors.
Popular Bergenia Plant Names
Below I’ve listed just some of the unique types of bergenia:
Bergenia Dragonfly Series – Introduced by Terra Nova Nurseries, this series includes the popular bergenia varieties ‘Angel Kiss’ and ‘Sakura.’ The small clumping habit of ‘Angel Kiss’ grows only to about 10 inches (25 cm.) tall. In spring it produces a mass of white to light pink blooms. In fall and winter the foliage of ‘Angel Kiss’ turns a deep red to purple. ‘Sakura’ grows to about 15 inches (38 cm.) tall and it produces deep pink blooms in spring.
Bergenia ‘Solar Flare’ – This variety is truly unique for the fact that it produces light to deep green variegated foliage. In spring this foliage is complemented by deep, magenta colored blooms. Then in autumn the foliage becomes pink to red.
Bergenia ‘Flirt’ – Introduced in 2014, ‘Flirt’ is a small variety of bergenia that does not tend to naturalize as widely as other varieties. This makes it ideal for containers or fairy gardens. It grows to about 8 inches (20 cm.) tall and wide, producing deep pink blooms in spring and deep burgundy foliage through fall and winter.
Bergenia ‘Pigsqueak’ – Named for the squeaky sound produced from rubbing the leaves between your fingers, ‘Pigsqueak’ bergenia will widely naturalize in a dry, shady bed. It makes an excellent groundcover for hard to grow sites.
Bergenia ‘Bressingham’ Series – Available as ‘Bressingham Ruby’ or ‘Bressingham White,’ the ‘Bressingham series’ of bergenia is a classic favorite. Though these varieties produce beautiful ruby colored or white blooms, they are most often grown for their foliage which has a burgundy to purple tinge throughout the growing season.
Bergenia ‘Rosi Klose’ – This highly sought-after variety produces salmon colored, slightly bell-shaped blooms. This bloom color and shape is very unique for bergenia.